Archive for March, 2012

Undercover Annie

I’ve been in Bali for 4 weeks, and decided to stay another month. It’s been an intensely healing journey for me and I’m just not ready to leave yet.

Although I’ve been practicing yoga for 10 years, it hasn’t been on a regular basis and I don’t push myself very hard, for fear of the pain or injury. These past few months in Bali and at the ashram in Vietnam have really elevated and deepened my yoga practice. And for the first time I can do a head stand! The spiritual aspect is a huge factor for my inner journey.

Bali has been so inspirational for me. The people are extremely gentle and humble. It’s been a good lesson for me to slow down my monkey mind, that I don’t have to be busy constantly, and to open myself to silence and stillness. I’ve attended several cleansing ceremonies in Bali, and have just been floored by the utter devotional displays. Women and men, young and old, all of them chanting with their eyes closed, heads raised up, smiles of pure bliss. Occasionally, people will start wailing and crying. It’s a bit stunning to see a grown man sobbing next to me, but I soon realize it’s just a natural emotional release for them. Balinese people spend about half their income on various ceremonies – no wonder they are so blissed out!

I’ve spent a few weeks at an amazing mountain yoga retreat center in North Bali, Gaia Oasis. The bungalows are nestled in the hillside, surrounded by lush banana trees, bamboo groves, coconut trees and flowering bushes. Yoga is twice a day, overlooking a pond filled with frogs. My first few days, I stay in my room recovering from food poisoning. Eventually, I feel better and venture out, sharing meals with other guests. One of the guests, after a two-minute conversation about healers, looks me straight in the eye and tells me I’m “undercover.” I don’t quite understand her meaning, maybe it’s lost in translation? So I ask her to clarify, and she tells me I’m undercover because I look so happy, but deep in my eyes she can see great pain and sadness. At first I feel a bit defensive because I am so unbelievably happy, but then I take a step back and own her words. I’m an incest survivor and have been working on these issues for decades. I’ve tried talk therapy, alternative treatments, meditation and hypnotherapy. And even though I can surround myself with goodness today, these horrible things happened to me as a child and I can’t change the past. In Bali, I’ve had so much time for contemplation that I’ve realized forgiveness is the true path for healing. Not for them, but for me.

A few days later, the yoga teacher leads us in a mantra about healing and forgiveness. She tells us to picture someone who needs healing and we begin the mantra (ra ma da sa, sa say so hung). I close my eyes and I’m at my brother’s house in New York. It’s a sunny day and I run into the house and hug my brother and mother tightly. We go into the back yard, feel the grass beneath our feet, throw our heads back in exaltation, holding hands, laughing and dancing. But then I imagine my Grandfather (who molested me) and he looks a bit uncomfortable. I hug him and we start to dance together. Later, my other brother joins us (who also molested me). I am really truly happy dancing with them. Afterwards, I open my eyes in this yoga room and am completely shellshocked by this spontaneous forgiveness.

A few days ago was Nyepi, Balinese New Year. It’s a day of complete silence in Bali. All the electricity is turned off, no one works, you can’t leave your house (or hotel), airplanes don’t even land in Bali! New Year is always a time to reflect on my life and think about my future. So this Balinese New Year, I decided to let love and joy into my heart. My new plans are to go to yoga teacher training in Vietnam in 2013, and open a yoga studio in Hoi An, Vietnam. I’m opening my heart more every day, and so amazed at where it’s taking me.

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